Competency-Based Education (CBE): Creating learners for life

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Education on all levels is changing dramatically. For teachers across the country, the pandemic was a significant adjustment and learning moment. It shed light on the need to reevaluate how we deliver education as many struggled with the transition of teaching digitally.

Through that shift, we have seen extra attention being paid to “competency-based education.” (CBE) A form of learning where the evaluations are not just at the end of the learning process but throughout the learning journey. Competency-Based Education utilizes knowledge-based metrics that better engage the concepts of the course.

It is a comprehensive approach to education. It not only sets K-12 students up for success if they choose to continue their education in higher-ed, but it also helps shape competencies that translate to various facets of life, such as critical thinking, collaboration, and reading comprehension.

This period of transformation comes with a lot of questions. With that in mind, we curated a list of FAQs to help guide you through this moment of transition. of CBE.png


What do you mean by competency-based learning?

Competency-based Education has an intentional and transparent approach for curriculum design within academic models. Students obtain and demonstrate knowledge and skills through activities that align with specific programmatic outcomes. The learner earns their credentials after showing proficiency through various forms of assessment. Students receive proactive instruction and support from faculty, staff, and collaborative support from other students.

Competency-based education helps create a flexible and comprehensive learning environment. It focuses on mastering the curriculum overall. Particularly in K-12, it is about shaping students’ core competencies, empowering them to believe in their intellectual capabilities.

What is the difference between competency-based education and outcome-based education?

The difference between competency-based education and outcomes-based education lies in the systems in place within the classroom. The learning process is modular in a competency-based educational environment, embedding opportunities for evaluating progress throughout the course. Students are assessed throughout the learning in addition to traditional, end-of-subject exams. These processes equip educators with the knowledge they need to adjust teaching in real-time.

Competency-based education enables teachers to judge student performance beyond a letter grade. Rather, student learning is judged on several key performance indicators and signifiers of learning. It focuses on helping students master the academic content. Meaning, they can not only regurgitate it on an exam but also incorporate the education into their lives. Mastery Framework.png

Source: US Department of Education

What are the advantages of competency-based education?

One of the most significant advantages of competency-based education is that teachers can shape equity and inclusion into their courses. Students can perform and demonstrate competency in several different ways. Ways that might be more suited and necessary for that student to develop in their academic experience. By incorporating several other measurements for competency. It allows teachers, districts, and schools to form a mastery-based system that provides multiple opportunities for students to be evaluated on their knowledge of the subject.

Through competency-based education, you are teaching students how to learn. You are helping them shape critical thinking skills that allow them to digest information constructively. These skills are particularly transferable no matter if they decide to continue to post-secondary education or not.

As they progress in society, regardless of how far they decide to take their education, students now have formed the skills they will need to evaluate information and better participate in societal discourse. and outreach.png

Source: ExcelinEd

Why is competence necessary in education?

We have heard from educators, particularly in higher education, that they expect students to have mastery of basic level competencies such as reading comprehension and researching skills. However, we are seeing that many students do not always have that mastery coming out of K-12. Through a competency-based educational approach, these skills are honed and reinforced during the learning process to strengthen students’ skillset. Thus, preparing students to have success in the next phase of their education.

Competency-based education has the potential to advance student and teacher relationships. Students are encouraged to speak and collaborate within the class instead of simply memorizing information. It encourages students to grasp concepts within the course thoroughly. It incorporates strategies that keep every student in mind. It fosters collaborative learning environments and incentivizes getting into the content to understand it from all angles.

It creates learning environments that enable everyone to have an opportunity to demonstrate their level of understanding of the material. Issues that often arise when relying heavily on outcome-based assessments is that it leaves students who may struggle in that particular form of evaluation with no other way to demonstrate their understanding of the information. Focusing on different ways to measure students’ competency provides other pathways for students to, no matter their background or learning styles, demonstrate their level of understanding in the ways they do best.

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In CBE, the mastery of the subject is what achieves the grade. It allows many opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge — ultimately helping advance course results. Alongside the utilization of technology, teachers can also measure student progress and support them in real-time when they need it most. Teachers can then develop personalized learning strategies to ensure that all students in the class have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Competency-based education provides an environment where a classroom can become a community. It encourages collaboration and learning habits that stretch beyond classroom walls. It relies on other avenues of assessment that ensure equal opportunity for success in the classroom and helps craft skills that shape learners for life.

Thank you for reading this article! If you want to start incorporating Competency-Based Learning practices in your classroom, we would love to talk to you. You can reach us at

For more news on education, make sure to check out our latest blog post here.

We look forward to the conversation!